It can be such a blow when someone we’ve admired turns out to be a lawbreaker, an abuser, a liar or even just a jerk who doesn’t abide by the tenets of common decency.
When those people are gazillionaires — because fans have idolized them and loved their work or artistry — the disillusionment hurts that much more.
There’s been a lot of that going on lately, especially in the NFL. I’m not a team-sports enthusiast, but I can empathize with the sense of betrayal, the deep disappointment, of those who are.
It’s sad that I have to keep reminding myself that fame and fortune don’t have to produce fatheads.
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So, it was a breath of restorative fresh air when the Sept. 14 edition of The Tribune included a Parade magazine with a cover picture of Stefani Germanotta standing behind Anthony Dominick Benedetto as she reached around to adjust his tuxedo tie.
You know the star-power duo as pop diva Lady Gaga and legendary crooner Tony Bennett.
I was impressed.
Was I dazzled by their fame? No. I was intrigued by their obvious affection for and ease with each other, despite how unlikely the pairing is. Then I read that they’re neighbors, friends and now collaborators on a new duet album of mostly classic jazz numbers.
I guess I look at celebrity differently, probably because I was raised in the music business. I admire talent, but I won’t be anybody’s toady. I don’t do fawning, and I certainly won’t ask for autographs. Ugh.
I understand fame’s stresses, especially in the entertainment biz. The joys of celebrity are way overrated. Aside from big paychecks and the pleasures of performing, fame can be a horrible taskmistress.
Stars can’t control their own work, schedules, lives or the future that relies on the whims of the public. Some (apparently, Gaga is one of them) don’t know who to trust, or if anybody really likes them for who they really are. Most don’t even know who they really are. And they’re the target of every eagle-eyed, wannabe paparazzi with a cellphone camera and an agenda.
In Parade’s gentle photo, those two handsome Italians — Gaga, 28, and Tony, 88 — looked for all the world as if they were dressing for a fancy father-daughter dance she amazingly sedate, he smiling ear to ear.
Megastars? Oh, yes. But more important from personal experience on one hand and what I’ve been told on the other they’re both nice people.
I met Tony long ago through my jazz-musician father. They were friends, having come up the ranks at the same time, although the legendary crooner climbed much higher. Didn’t matter. Every time I saw Tony, he was old-school-cordial and gracious, a truly welcoming gentleman. I understand he’s stayed that way.
I’ve never met Gaga, although I likely could have earlier this year, when I covered the entire process of her video being filmed at Hearst Castle, from preliminary arrangements to the unfortunate fallout afterwards.
Some who worked with Gaga, or were on the hilltop when she and her large crew were there, told me “LG” (as some refer to her) or “Lady” (as Tony calls her) was pleasant to work with or to be around.
I have been told that Gaga is dedicated to art of many kinds, not just her own. She works very hard. She’s willing to put up her own money to make good things happen for people she doesn’t know and never will.
I don’t know that personally. But on Feb. 18, a bartender at a Cambria pub was getting ready to close up for the night when Gaga and her crew dropped by for an impromptu, after-wrap, after-hours gathering of brew, sake and dancing. Later, the bartender said they had been polite, upbeat, friendly and generous (leaving a $500 tip!).
I’ve known lots of genuinely nice superstars. For instance, Sammy Davis Jr. was a charmer. (“Know why I like hanging around with you, Kathe? You’re shorter than I am!”)
I’ve also known some real snots, and you’d be horrified to know who some of them are.
But I won’t disillusion you. The NFL and some of its players have done enough of that lately.